Theater lovers, high school graduates and newlyweds who like to take pictures on the Guthrie Theater's Endless Bridge can rejoice.
The grand playhouse on the Minneapolis riverfront plans to reopen its building to the public July 8 — about 16 months after canceling performances and closing its doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theater will stage a seven-play slate starting with a limited-run production of an as yet unannounced show in October followed by a new production of "A Christmas Carol," its beloved holiday classic.
"We are full of anticipation as we thoughtfully prepare to open our doors and bring our stages back to life while keeping the health and safety of our staff, artists, patrons and community members a top priority," said Artistic Director Joseph Haj.
The Guthrie news comes as other arts institutions in the state gear up for reopenings. The Minnesota Orchestra is planning to bring in limited audiences with concerts June 11 and 12. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres reopens its production of "The Music Man" on July 3.
Broadway is getting into the reopening act as well with "Hamilton," "The Lion King" and "Wicked" returning to the stage Sept. 14.
The Guthrie's new "Carol," which begins previews Nov. 8, will be adapted by Chicago-based theater artist Lavina Jadhwani and directed by Haj.
"After a year marked by the profound loss of lives and livelihoods due to the pandemic, it brings me great hope to share our reopening plans with the community and know that we will be gathering at the theater again soon," Haj said.
The Guthrie also will produce a five-play subscription season from January to August 2022. Titles will be announced in June.
Before the pandemic shutdown, the Guthrie annually drew about 350,000 patrons to its menu of shows, concerts and special events in the $125 million Jean Nouvel-designed riverfront edifice that it moved to in 2006. Some of those fans are brimming with anticipation.
"It's certainly exciting to have them opening up," said longtime season-ticket holder Pauline Boss, an emeritus professor at the University of Minnesota and wife of the late sketch comedy impresario Dudley Riggs. They have been opening night subscribers of the Guthrie since the 1980s.
"We moved to our condo home just a block away in 2015 and I can tell you that the Guthrie is the heart of the neighborhood and a beautiful place where friends gather and have a meal then go to a play," Boss said. "It's more than a cultural center — the Guthrie is a community center also."
Starting July 8, the Guthrie's lobbies will be open to the public without reservations 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. That includes its outdoor Jundt Terrace on the Endless Bridge, a photography magnet, and the Amber Box on Level Nine.
There will be no rentals or food and beverage service for now.
The Guthrie has been following government guidelines and best practices to ensure the health and safety of its staff and guests. That includes installing high-efficiency MERV 13 air filters and increasing the building's air flow, according to the release.
"There is much work ahead as we rebuild the organization, but we are grateful for the incredible support we've received from so many and look forward to emerging from these challenging times together," Haj said.